Carmen Auza is a true example of a committed volunteer leader. Seeing the greater good, she's always present, always engaged always focused, always smiling. She's the kind of leader we can all get behind, certainly work with.
Joe and Carmen Auza.
Married nearly 60 years, Carmen and husband, Joe Auza, operate a farming and ranching business mainly in Pinal County. While her own family, the Manterola's had their own ranching business, Carmen also taught first grade four years before raising her own family.
Over most of her Farm Bureau involvement, Carmen’s leadership focus was on behalf of women in agriculture. She served as Arizona Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Chairwoman for 6 years representing Arizona at American Farm Bureau's national conventions and meeting with Farm Bureau Women from all over the United States.
Carmen was instrumental in coordinating the first Women In Ag Conference with Ruth Goldman in partnership with the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Arizona Farm Bureau. Since its founding, there have been at least 16 conferences that train Farm Bureau Women for leadership roles in their various volunteer organizations. These gatherings also serve to inform participants on currents issues and trends impacting agriculture. Through her leadership work with the Women's Leadership Committee, over the years the Committee supported the Ronald McDonald House in Phoenix with money and volunteer time. Ronald McDonald House is a home away from home for families with seriously ill children who are in Phoenix hospitals receiving treatment for their illnesses.
During her active tenure as Arizona Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Chair, she helped obtain grants from the Arizona Department of Agriculture to develop and produce an educational coloring book, "Exploring Arizona Grown Agriculture" for grades 1 to 3. Her committee members also helped produce a teaching tool for teachers in grades 4 to 8 called "Arizona Agademics" that is still in use today. This tool has questions on all facets of Arizona agriculture and has answers for the teachers to use in the classroom. Content has been kept fresh with periodic updates.
Carmen currently serves as Treasurer for the Pinal County Farm Bureau. Plus, she continues to support Pinal County Farm Bureau in helping sponsor the FFA-4-H Fair BBQ for buyers at the Pinal County Fair Auction.
Carmen continues to serve on the Arizona Farm Bureau Sheep and Goat committee. Over the years, she's traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with Senators and Legislators concerning sheep industry policy. This committee helps make state policy to be presented at our American Farm Bureau Meeting in January of each year.
Carmen's leadership work wasn't exclusively for Farm Bureau. While raising her family, she was a 4-H Lamb leader for 13 years also served as Lamb Superintendent helping set up entries in each lamb division. She's served as Secretary/Treasurer for the Arizona Wool Producers Association and for the Arizona Wool Producers Auxiliary. She and others sponsored a "Make it Yourself With Wool" competition for young people to sew garments with wool. The two winners in the Junior and Senior divisions then go to the National competition for the American Sheep Industry convention’s "Make It With Wool" Competition. Additionally, she's served as Treasurer for Arizona Council for CASA/Foster, Inc. Her responsibility as a volunteer was to help raise funds to serve the needs of the children in the Foster care court system in Pinal County.
We asked Carmen a few questions about the family agriculture enterprise and her own experiences as a volunteer. We know her experiences can inspire other Farm Bureau volunteer leaders.
An agriculture profile of Carmen Auza, of Pinal County .
An ongoing series of our farm and ranch businesses.
Tell us about your agriculture.
Since the 1960s, we raise sheep, cattle and farm alfalfa, corn and cotton in Casa Grande and Williams, Arizona. My husband, Joe, and I have farmed and ranched for 50 years and I have always been involved with the business.
Growing up, my family was involved in sheep ranching. My grandparents were sheep ranchers in Spain, France and Argentina.
I was raised in the ranching business and lived on the ranches in summer. We didn’t have electricity so used Coleman lanterns, chopped wood for the wood stove and washed clothes with a gas-powered wringer washer. We pumped water from a well and heated on a fireplace with a tub.
The three Manterola sisters, Marie Guappone, Sylvia Manterola (Sylvia passed away in 2018) and Carmen Auza, have always been involved in industry and community activities and fully devoted to family.
What person had the most positive impact on your life as it relates to farming
My husband, Joe, has had the most positive impact on our lives relating to farming and ranching. He manages all aspects of the farm and ranch operations. I help with shipping, branding etc. and the book work.
What is your connection to Farm Bureau? Tell us about your leadership role in Farm Bureau if you had one.
I have been a Farm Bureau member since the 1980s. I have served as Secretary/Treasurer of Pinal County Farm bureau since 2004; now serving as just the Treasurer instead of the combined role. I also served as AZ Woman’s Leadership Chair from 1998 to 2003. I received the Heritage Award for Pinal County and the State Farm Bureau in 2009. Ruth Goldman and I developed the first Women in Ag Conference in June 1997 with the help of the University of Arizona. We developed the Learning Ag color book for grades 1 to 3 and the Agademics cards for grades 4 to 6. Carrie Gross helped our committee obtain three grants from the Arizona Department of Agriculture for the projects.
Our Women’s Committee celebrated Food Check Out Day at the Ronald McDonald home in Phoenix. We would deliver 40 bags of food items and do a BBQ for families staying at the home while the children were receiving treatments at local hospitals. Farm Bureau members would cook a BBQ lunch for the parents. We made several donations for improving rooms and playground.
Why is Farm Bureau important today?
Farm Bureau keeps members updated on all issues facing agriculture. It helps protect our industry on a grassroots level with members involved in making and developing policy. We make policy recommendations each year to our state Farm Bureau.
What are the most important economic, business, or technical issues that have affected you in your career in agriculture?
Imports have hurt the sheep industry; EPA regulations and labor issues have been one of our largest obstacles as we have to use the H2A program for our herders. We bring our herders from Peru. We also use the H2A farm worker program for our farm workers.
What is the most important land, water or resource issues that have affected you in your career in agriculture?
Water has been one of the largest issues facing Pinal County. We rely on the Central Arizona Project (CAP) for our water. Our main source of water from the San Carlos Dam is low so we are forced to buy expensive CAP water. Water conservation by land leveling, concrete ditches and linear sprinklers help conserve water for us.
Share some interesting historical tidbits you’re familiar with about your county Farm Bureau.
Marie Guappone, Carmen Auza and Sylvia Manterola became famous for their lamb burritos during Arizona Farm Bureau's annual AgFest. If you didn't stop by the Pinal County Farm Bureau booth to get your burrito you truly missed a taste of Arizona agriculture that year. Also pictured is Rhonda Vanderslice, Farm Bureau Financial Services agent and Farm Bureau volunteer and good friends with the group.
Pinal County has been very strong in supporting our FFA and 4-H at our fair. We sponsor the Buyers BBQ and buy animals that we then donate to Charities such as Home of Hope, Seeds of Hope, Youth Haven, Caring Hands, Pan de Vida and Stanfield Food Bank. We donate the meat for our Food Check Out Day project.
We have started a new Scholarship program recently, the Ag Ambassador Scholarship Program. Each year we average three to four Ag Ambassadors. The goal is to provide leadership opportunities for students. They learn about Farm Bureau and how it works from grassroots up and develop communication skills including speaking on Agriculture. They attend Farm Bureau meetings and attend Farm Bureau events. We award a free year of membership to the Farm Bureau Collegiate Chapter in the following year of college. To be awarded the full $1,600 Scholarship, the Ambassadors must attend four separate events.
In the past we have given 6 to 10 $500 Scholarships to Pinal County Students who will be going into college majoring in Ag. We’ve found the Ambassador program is more engaging and a teaching tool for youth as they prepare for their future.
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